• thesecretitalian

Meet the Founder: Colive

*this post was taken from a previous Instagram collaboration*

Credit: Colive Oil

This week we talked to Colive to hear about founder Hasan's experiences of olive oil and reconciliation in Cyprus:

"1974 is a personal date for all Cypriots. Following a period of civil unrest between ethnic communities on the island, the Greek coup d'etat in 1974, then Turkish intervention that followed saw the island divided in two. Since then it has been a stalemate between the two sides. My mother is originally from a southern city, Paphos. She and her family were among the last ones to be displaced with the United Nations Peace Force and Red Cross to Northern Cyprus. I have more such stories in my wider family, including an uncle that was a prisoner of war, now working with farmers with us across Cyprus as he is fluent both in Turkish and Greek.

We work directly with farmers on both sides of the disputed border and bring the olives and communities together. Our work in 3 years expanded from local communities to abandoned farms to working with refugees in our partner farms.

Colive is about extending an olive branch, literally. Olive oil is the common ground that we can build on. I would like to think of it as the first step towards having a peaceful life in Cyprus for all, equal regardless of ethnicity, language and religion. Our message exceeds the national limits. It is universal: living harmoniously, sharing our resources and prospering on a global scale.

Olives are ever-present in Cyprus, a tree in every garden, a bottle on every dining table. Having grown up in Istanbul and then living in London, having Cypriot olive oil was always a treat for me (Hasan). My friends commented on how amazing the olive oil tasted. Olive oil was about family too. My whole family lives in Cyprus; they were the ones that brought the oil. I was also attracted to the uniqueness and taste of Cypriot olive oil.

Hasan and Alex - Credit: Colive Oil

Between the move from London to Cyprus for Colive, I traveled the Mediterranean and trained as an olive oil sommelier in Tuscany, Italy. I wanted the build a world class olive oil taste and had to be sure. After my travels and sommelier training, I was sure about the Cypriot olive oil.

From the start, I envisioned Colive as a social enterprise, a company that can work to change things for the better in Cyprus. We wanted to directly interact with all communities on the island and donate a percentage of our profits to change the status quo.

That's why I turned to my longtime friend Alex to be a director in Colive. Since the first day of university in the UK, we have been friends, a decade long friendship across a disputed border. We founded the first pan-Cypriot company in the last 50 years.

We asked @colive.oil for dishes that would represent both sides of the divide in Cyprus, and that would represent both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. We made mucendra (rice with lentils and onions), ayrelli (wild asparagus with eggs) and tzatziki (yoghurt with mint and cucumber) and of course olives.

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